Previous studies on labour market discrimination based on sexual orientation have not revealed whether reported differences in earnings have been due to differences in the samples, populations, or outcomes, nor what the likely cause might be. Using a UK-wide dataset of sexual orientation and labour market earnings, this column shows that the overall difference in earnings for men who identify as gay is near zero irrespective of whether they are in a partnership or not, while women with a lesbian orientation have an earnings premium of about 5.5%. Specialisation explains earnings differences that depend on partnership status, though outside London there is some evidence of discrimination.
Cevat Giray Aksoy, Christopher S. Carpenter, Jefferson Frank, 03 January 2017
Philippe Jehiel, Laurent Lamy, 22 November 2016
Bid preferences and set-asides are popular discriminatory practices in US public procurement, but are prohibited in the EU. This column argues that discrimination can be cost-reducing provided it is targeted to favour those firms whose participation is more responsive to the auction procedure. Situations when set-asides may be cost-reducing are also discussed.
Laurent Gobillon, Matthieu Solignac, 21 January 2016
Assimilation of migrants can be measured in various ways, one such measure being their access to the homeownership market. This column argues that the evolution of homeownership rates of immigrants is a complex process, with important selection effects. In France, the homeownership rate among northern African immigrants lags behind not only that of natives, but also southern European immigrants. A possible reason is discrimination against northern African immigrants not only on the labour market, but also on the credit and housing markets.
Siwan Anderson, Debraj Ray, 10 October 2015
The developing world has notoriously low female-to-male sex ratios, a phenomenon that has been described as ‘missing women’. It is argued that this is driven by parental preferences for sons, sex-selective abortion, and different levels of care during infancy. This column shows that these higher rates of female mortality continue into adulthood. It argues that being unmarried, especially through widowhood, can have substantial effects on relative rates of female mortality in the developing world.
Huailu Li, Kevin Lang, Kaiwen Leong, 28 August 2015
Economic models suggest that competition will prevent those subjected to discrimination from being affected adversely. This column uses an unusual case study of sex workers in Singapore to reveal that having many actors on both sides of the market does not, in fact, eliminate discrimination. Policy intervention remains the best tool to end price discrimination.
Trevon Logan, John Parman, 09 March 2015
Racial disparities in socioeconomic conditions remain a major policy issue throughout the world. This column applies a new neighbour-based measure of residential segregation to US census data from 1880 and 1940. The authors find that existing measures understate the extent of segregation, and that segregation increased in rural as well as urban areas. The dramatic decline in opposite-race neighbours during the 20th century may help to explain the persistence of racial inequality in the US.
Francesco D'Acunto, Marcel Prokopczuk, Michael Weber, 26 February 2015
Discrimination can be costly for both victims and perpetrators. This column uses the variation of historical Jewish persecution across German counties to proxy for localised distrust in financial markets. Persecution reduces the average stock market participation rate of households by 7.5%–12%. This striking effect is stable over time, across cohorts, and across education levels. The effect survives when comparing only geographically close counties. It suggests that the persecution of minorities may negatively affect societal wealth even far into the future through the channel of intergenerationally transmitted investment norms.
Alex Bryson, Arnaud Chevalier, 15 August 2014
Racial gaps in wages are often attributed to discrimination but data limitations make drawing strong conclusions difficult. Economists usually distinguish between taste-based and statistical discrimination. This column presents evidence from a new test of taste-based discrimination. Examining hiring decisions in the English Fantasy Premier League, the authors do not find that employers discriminate based on race. One explanation for this is that good productivity measures minimise the opportunities for statistical discrimination, which according to studies drives the racial difference in market outcomes.
Ghazala Azmat, Barbara Petrongolo, 07 June 2014
There are considerable gender differences in pay and employment levels, and in the type of labour-market activities. This column reviews experimental studies that address different aspects of these problems. Three channels are explored: gender discrimination on the labour market, differences in individual and group preferences, and productivity. Despite recent experimental advances, gender differences in labour-market success have only been partially explained.
Laurent Gobillon, Peter Rupert, Étienne Wasmer, 16 June 2013
The unemployment rate in France is roughly 6 percentage points higher for African immigrants than for natives. In the US the unemployment rate is approximately 9 percentage points higher for blacks than for whites. This paper investigates the impact of spatial mismatch on the unemployment rate of ethnic groups using the matching model proposed by Rupert and Wasmer (2012).
Eleonora Patacchini , Giuseppe Ragusa, Yves Zenou, 14 November 2012
Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is perceived as widespread in the EU. This column provides the evidence. Fake CVs, some explicitly gay, were sent to job ads in Rome and Milan. Gay men were found to have a 30% lower chance of being called back. And while beauty increased callback rates for women, being overtly lesbian had no effect.
Christopher Cotton, Frank McIntyre, Joseph Price, 21 October 2010
Around the world, the pay and achievement gap between men and women remains significant, as shown by last week’s Global Gender Gap Report. This column explores whether this gap can be explained by attitudes towards competition. Using experimental evidence from math quiz competitions in primary schools, it finds that while males respond better to competition initially, this advantage is short-lived, as females are just as responsive over time.
Sara de la Rica , Juan Dolado, Raquel Vegas, 03 August 2010
The competitive paradigm predicts equivalent wages for equivalent workers, but significant gender gaps persist in many labor markets. This column analyses the gap in earnings between Spanish men and women, focusing on performance-related pay. It shows a strikingly large gap in pay and suggests that employer beliefs about unbalanced household tasks and outside options generate “a marriage premium” for males and a “marriage penalty” for women.
Jennifer Doleac, Luke Stein, 29 June 2010
Do buyers discriminate based on race? This column describes an experiment in the US that advertised iPods online from black and white sellers. Black sellers received fewer offers at lower prices, doing better in markets with competition amongst buyers and worse in high-crime markets. The authors find evidence of both statistical and taste-based discrimination.
Alison Booth, Andrew Leigh, 02 February 2010
Does gender-stereotyping in the workplace cut both ways? This column presents evidence from Australia suggesting that employers in occupations with more women discriminate against male applicants, perhaps preferring to conform to perceived social norms. As with discrimination against women, this raises concerns for both equity and efficiency.
Rema Hanna, Leigh Linden, 01 September 2009
Education is often cited as a way of “levelling the playing field” for children from disadvantaged minority groups, opening up both social and economic opportunities. But is education itself level? This column provides evidence that Indian schoolteachers may discriminate against minority students.
John List, 30 April 2009
John List of the University of Chicago talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about the use of field experiments in economics, including his research on people’s motivation for charitable giving, gender differences in competitiveness, and discrimination in the labour market. The interview was recorded at the American Economic Association meetings in San Francisco in January 2009.
David Bjerk, 15 October 2008
Females and minorities may be underrepresented at top jobs due to a sticky floor rather than a glass ceiling. This column says that if females and minorities face greater obstacles in signalling their abilities to employers early in their careers, then they may never have the opportunity to reach the top. Policies might try targeting the bottom of the job ladder.
Denis Drechsler, Johannes Jütting, 07 March 2008
Discrimination against women significantly hampers the economic development of many poor countries. This column introduces two new OECD Development Centre efforts to assess and reduce gender discrimination, including a new portal www.wikigender.org.
José Tavares , Tiago Cavalcanti, 16 October 2007
Gender discrimination is economically inefficient since it prevents equalisation of marginal products. Recent simulations based on calibrated macro models indicate that the economic loss is large. In one thought experiment, the research suggests that a very large fraction of the income differences between many nations and the US is due to gender inequality.